Thinking Anglicans

ISB controversy episode 3

Episode 1 was this: Archbishops’ Council terminates contracts of ISB members

Episode 2 is here: ISB controversy continues

Today, the BBC Radio 4 programme Sunday carried a segment in which three people were interviewed by William Crawley: Jane Chevous from Survivors Voices, Jasvinder Sanghera one of the sacked ISB members, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell.
The BBC programme is here: go to 31 minutes, 45 seconds for the start of this item. A transcript of the interview is available here.

Professor Nicholas Adams wrote a very detailed analysis of this interview on his Facebook page, and has kindly allowed me to reproduce his comments, which are here in a PDF, include suggestions for what the archbishop might more helpfully have said. Do read it all.

Earlier last week, Justin Humphreys, of the safeguarding consultancy thirtyone:eight wrote about the Archbishops’ Council’s action in this article: Why true independence matters when it comes to safeguarding. Here is a part of it

The sad news of the departure of the members of the Church of England Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB), who have persistently pursued their mandate to provide independent oversight and support the work of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team, is a significant setback in the progress made. It also highlights serious flaws in the way the Independent Safeguarding Board is structured in that it reports into the same body, the Archbishops Council, who oversee the day-to-day national and regional safeguarding operations that the Board has been set up to scrutinise. If a body is to exercise true independence, it must be fully independent and free from the structures and influences that it is created to oversee.

Justin Humphreys, Chief Executive at Thirtyone:eight comments, While the Church of England considers its next steps, the instinct to quickly rush to “reset” the existing model should be resisted. Time should be taken to properly learn the lessons of what went wrong and why, and with the help of appropriate external expertise they must give time to understand what is needed to ensure a true and fully independent review of its safeguarding operations. This process should include victims, survivors and those with lived experience. To simply recreate what was, would be a travesty and would almost certainly be doomed to the same outcome as the arrangements we have just seen collapse.’

Helen King has written: The Independent Safeguarding Board: a ‘reset’?

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‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

Events of the last five+ years mean that GS should be considering the following question: Are the two Archbishops, the AC, William Nye and the NST CAPABLE of telling the truth on safeguarding issues related to whistleblowers and survivors? It grieves me to say this but, both in my extensive direct personal experience as whistleblower and survivor with all of these groups, and of their public behaviour over the last few years, I personally conclude that they seem only able to dig ever deeper into the hole of their own making, where truth is merely an optional extra and becomes… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
11 months ago

That would seem to suggest some terminological inexactitudes in ++Ebor’s explanation.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
11 months ago

I think I understand the Archbishop. We want a fully independent ISB but this time we want to make sure it is staffed by people who don’t think independently. Parishes will have to jump through hoops and engage in onerous and time consuming “training” so the Church can be seen to be doing something but really nothing will be done to challenge the unaccountable managerial elite that now runs the Church of England. Trust is vital to my faith and I no longer trust my local clergy or the national church. I remain an Anglican (hopefully a thinking one) but… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by David Hawkins
Realist
Realist
11 months ago

I’m pleased to see this has been picked up. I wrote this earlier today and posted it on the first thread: Well the train wrecks continue…they wheeled the big guns out this morning, well at least the smallest of them… Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ programme made very interesting listening today. Some very effective questioning (no doubt the AC will claim bias, but listen to it and judge for yourself), plus powerful, articulate and succinct contributions from Jane Chevous and Jasvinder Sanghera exposed the problems for all to hear. His (Dis)Grace of York, in contrast, came across to me as: patronising in… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

It is idle to speculate about the next ++Cantuar until there is a vacancy, but I don’t think we need to wait long. I would like to think ++Ebor will be a candidate (having been a member of the CNC that nominated him to York), but too many obvious candidates like him are snared in this safeguarding morass. And they are not without fault. The Canterbury CNC (which worryingly is likely to be conservative leaning) might be advised to skip a generation and start afresh. It’s dire.

Susannah Clark
11 months ago

“We even received seven points of how we can move forward from the General Secretary this month.” What were the 7 points? Were those 7 points drafted, reviewed, and collectively discussed by all members of the Council? Did they all see that correspondence before it was sent? Was enough time given after that, to work through those 7 points? Was it reasonable and rational – not to mention, safe – to shut down the ISB days later, if they hadn’t had reasonable tine to address the points? Was the breakdown in communications a euphemism for ‘we aren’t comfortable with your… Read more »

Josephine Stein
Josephine Stein
11 months ago

It doesn’t take two years to work out how the Church can set up an independent safeguarding oversight body. All that’s needed is a properly resourced independent charity with the authority to investigate allegations of individual and institutional church abuse and to enforce its findings. Reset a failed approach and repeat, over and over again? No. Lengthy, confusing consultation documents, one after another? No. Just get on with it. This is not a job for the Church, but for independent expert consultants. I would suggest that a team of three could easily manage the process, to include (1) a survivor… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Josephine Stein
11 months ago

A good idea but how does this independent charity force the Church of England Bureaucracy and Bishops to cooperate ?
What if documents are “lost” ? What if people stonewall and refuse to answer questions ?
I think this will only work if the Church wants to cooperate or can be forced to cooperate.
All the evidence do far suggests that the Archbishops’ Council cannot be trusted.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
11 months ago

Such an unconvincing performance from Stephen Cottrell tells us that he knows he’s defending the indefensible. What on earth could make him willing to make himself sound so ridiculous? Presumably, the same thing that led Ian Paul to detonate his own credibility with his risible response to Julie Conalty, and the same thing that led the entire Archbishops’ Council to play fast and loose with the trust of survivors. This can’t just be about a notice of dispute being posted on twitter. There has to be more to this than meets the eye, and I’m left wondering what the Archbishops’… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
11 months ago

I may come to regret saying this, Father, if something comes out that they were trying to cover up – after all anything is possible with this lot. But as things are right now, I don’t think it’s about covering up some huge scandal (well a huge scandal beyond the ones we are currently seeing, anyway). I think it’s about power and control, purely and simply. It boils down to ‘these people won’t do as we tell them, and are making us look like we’re not in control of our own Church, so they’ve got to go’. A combination of… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

I’m afraid I’m cynical, and possibly the chronology may not support me, but I can’t help feeling that the letter to the Archbishops calling for William Nye to stand back (I think it actually went further than that) has been seen as a challenge to his and their authority to be resisted, and may well have been a catalyst in the evident digging in of heels which we have seen. It’s very clear that the letter is not having anything like its intended effect.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

Many thanks for this (and all your other comments). I wonder whether the form of corruption (for that is what it is) is informed by another segment on Mr Crawley’s show yesterday, which was about clergy pay. As one of the interviewees remarked, it is usually a flat rate and it does not progress. This arrangement is relatively abnormal within the world of work. Much of the time people seek validation and affirmation of their worth via graduated pay (as they gain experience) and bonus entitlements. In the Church everyone bar the dignitaries is on pretty much the same. This… Read more »

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Realist
11 months ago

As Martin Sewell has hinted at elsewhere, the REALLY bad stuff on safeguarding, the deliberate extensive coverups of scandals and ‘protecting one’s mates at all costs’, has yet to emerge. I can assure you that while it very much IS about, ‘power, control and deference’ as you suggest, it’s ALSO about very senior people in the C of E deliberately withholding very damning information in a doomed attempt to protect themselves and/or others, eg friends of 35 years standing, being exposed. (Having said that, such activity has been remarkably ‘successful’ in the distant and recent past, and into the present… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
11 months ago

Most interesting. I’d not be in the least surprised if the Makin report is not published until there have been “significant” retirements.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
11 months ago

I wonder if the Makin report will ever see the light of day. I fear that the wealthy and well-connected people likely to be mentioned in it will either exert influence or instruct solicitors.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
11 months ago

I have undertaken many radio interviews over the years on a variety of subject some where I was defending a position which the interviewer challenged. I once read a book about one of the great political operators in US politics who helped Bill Clinton unseat George Bush Snr. James Carville aka “ the ragin’ Cajun” from Louisiana insisted his clients approach radio interviews as follows. Answer the question short – yes or no is good as people respect a straight answer, then go on the attack to deliver your prepared points, only then explain: nobody’s that interested in long explanations… Read more »

Geoffrey Hollis
Geoffrey Hollis
Reply to  Martin Sewell
11 months ago

Cottrell’s first degree was in Media Studies. This has always struck me as odd because whenever I have heard him on radio or tv he never impresses. Was he made an Archbishop because he is an Anglo Catholic, as a sort of balance to Evangelical Welby?

N Adams
N Adams
Reply to  Martin Sewell
11 months ago

^ This

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Martin Sewell
11 months ago

To be honest, reputation management, PR/comms departments, control of agenda internally and in relation to the media… these things are rife in the management of the Church of England. They have infiltrated across from corporations and politics, and are embraced as vital management tools by people at the higher end of organisational hierarchies. In my opinion, we saw this at work in the Diocese of Oxford, when Comms were put out that in the same statement that indirectly harmed Dean Percy by citing the perfidy of some of his supporters, went on to endorse the statements of an accuser/ complainant… Read more »

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
Reply to  Martin Sewell
11 months ago

Following the ISB members’ disclosures, and Gilo’s intention to raise CDM against ABC and ABY, will any GS groups be inviting them to fringe meetings proir to the minimalised time that is being allowed to discussion of Safeguarding at the York GS session?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Graham Holmes
11 months ago

The problem, as pointed out on the earlier thread “ISB controversy continues” immediately below Gilo’s comment, is that a CDM against an archbishop falls to be decided by the other archbishop. I suppose it’s not impossible, but seems implausible, that both archbishops would find against each other, or that one of them might do so individually. It’s frankly a bizarre scenario for which I’m not aware of any alternative procedure to overcome the anomaly.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

It’s not a CDM, but the current General Synod Private Member’s Motion calling for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury is another route. Currently showing 0 signatures.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
11 months ago

Sorry, you have misread or misunderstood, I’m aware of the GS motion, but that is not the subject under discussion.

I’m frankly puzzled. Both Graham Holmes and I specifically refer to
Gilo having indicated that he intended making CDM complaints against both Archbishops. This is dealt with in detail on the earlier thread “ISB controversy continues” (as in my reply to Graham Holmes – not sure how or why you seem to have missed this). On the earlier thread, look for Gilo’s comment and the detailed analysis immediately below it, replying to a question from Fr Dexter Bracey.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
11 months ago

Second reply: I now think I see where you are coming from. Zero signatures speaks for itself. I suspect that both courses are, and will be, non-events.

Removal from office of any bishop (or indeed a dean appointed by the Crown) requires the consent of the King in his Privy Council. Resignation is, of course, a separate matter.

WYH
WYH
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
11 months ago

Resignation may be an easy option….. there is a lack of intellectual rigour, vision and moral integrity from the leadership.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  WYH
11 months ago

People with those traits would probably be the last to think that they should resign.

Froghole
Froghole
11 months ago

I felt that the interview ran out of steam and became repetitive after about about 2 minutes, because the archbishop of York was determined to stick to his script, almost as if he were prepped by Conservative Central Office. Various comments have reflected on where we go from here and on the need for proper independence. My fear is that, even if an independent regulator were established: (i) its independence would always be at risk if the Church was the paymaster; and (ii) there would be a real danger of ‘regulatory capture’ if the regulator were only regulating the Church.… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
11 months ago

I, too, listened to the Sunday programme yesterday and I’ve since read the transcript helpfully posted by Simon. It was a pity, first, that while mentioning the item at the beginning of the programme, the interview with Archbishop Stephen was the last item when William Crawley was up against the clock. Second, while I agree that Archbishop Stephen appeared to be wanting to read a prepared script rather than answering Crawley’s questions, I felt that Crawley could have done better by asking the following questions (asked sequentially) and insisting on answers: Do you agree with that the mission of the… Read more »

Angusian
Angusian
11 months ago

The whole sequence was an embarrassment both to +York and the C of E Communications division. At times York was incoherent, defensive and unable to parry the questions convincingly. Surely the Comms department could have briefed him properly, prepared him with the likely questions, or better still have fielded a better apologist? Or are they unable to field a more competent, informed and articulate interviewee?

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
11 months ago

As others have remarked, Abp Cottrell seemed determined to stick to his prepared script rather than actually answering questions or saying anything relevant to the points at issue. He did, however, let slip one significant point: in the meeting he was due to chair when he heard (allegedly via Twitter – don’t his office communicate with him?), he was going to act as mediator between the NSB and the Archbishops’ Council. It’s a pity Dr. Crawley didn’t pick up on this absurdity, because it demonstrates the Church’s total inability to recognise when independent and neutral input is needed. It takes… Read more »

Angusian
Angusian
Reply to  Janet Fife
11 months ago

again, my criticism of the CofE comms division!

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